Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Is Paid Sick Leave On its Way to a Minneapolis Workplace Near You?

Throughout the year, we’ve posted about efforts at the federal and Minnesota legislative level to enact paid sick leave laws.  So far, there’s no federal or Minnesota state-wide law, but there is clearly a growing movement afoot around the country to pass such laws. And now, the Minneapolis City Council is getting in on the action. The City Council is considering an ordinance that has been referred to as one of the most far-reaching paid sick leave initiatives in the nation. The proposed ordinance, known as the Working Family Agenda, would require every business in the city of Minneapolis to give paid sick leave to workers and to provide advance notice of work schedules or face additional payroll costs.
The sick leave portion of the proposed ordinance, while not without its potential burdens, is less concerning than the proposed work scheduling provisions. Many employers already voluntary provide paid time off to sick workers. For those that do not, however, the ordinance would require the City’s approximately 39,000 businesses to provide workers with one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.
Many Minneapolis employers are, however, understandably riled up about the ordinance’s proposed provisions on employee scheduling and “predictability pay.” As originally proposed, the ordinance would have required Minneapolis employers to give hourly employees at least 28 days’ advance notice of their work schedules. In addition, employers who fail to meet the notice requirement would have been required to pay extra to employees, including one hour of “predictability pay” for each schedule change and at least four hours of pay if a schedule is adjusted within 24 hours of a shift. The original proposal also provided for an employee to be paid overtime pay for work over eight hours in a day or where the employee was required, without his or her consent, to work without at least an 11-hour break between shifts, more than 55 hours in a week, or more than six days in a row.
It was reported today that, in response to intense criticism of the proposed ordinance, the City Council is making revisions to reduce the advance notice period for employee schedules to 14 days. In addition, the Council is considering some protections for schedules that include four 10-hour shifts and a phased-in implementation period to permit small businesses to adapt to the ordinance. Even with these changes, however, the proposed ordinance could prove extremely burdensome for many types of businesses (e.g. restaurant, retail, salon, and manufacturing to name just a few) for which scheduling depends on multiple, fluid factors that cannot always be predicted weeks in advance. For example, changes in customer demand can cause a need for short-notice changes in schedules as can, of course, unanticipated absences of other employees or other unforeseen circumstances.

The City Council is apparently set to vote on the proposed ordinance by the end of this year. In deciding how to vote, City Council members will have to balance the hardship stories that they are hearing from individuals who work multiple, low-paying jobs in the City with little protection against the potential burdens of the ordinance on businesses, particularly small businesses with fluctuating demand. As the Council vote approaches, we’ll be keeping an ear to the ground for new developments, but Minneapolis employers will want to stay tuned and can reach out to City officials to share their views. 

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